While developers dream up ever taller condo towers for Miami's historically squat downtown, a group of Florida International University graduate architecture students have proposed an alternative vision, taking a page from dense, vibrant places like New York's West Village and Boston's North End, as well as little-known sections of Miami. Andrew Frey, commercial manager for Armando Codina's CC Residential by day and renegade infill urbanism advocate by night, co-conceived along with FIU architecture associate prof Jason Chandler a graduate-level studio design course focused on infill housing (basically, building on what's already there) sponsored by the Knight Foundation, the fruits of which – prototype sketches, drawings, renderings and models – are now on display at the Bas Fisher Invitational gallery in downtown Miami. Students of the inaugural course – which FIU liked so much, it's now mandatory for all architecture grad students – went on a field trip to Savannah, Ga., to study the city's antebellum design pattern: 12 developable blocks surrounding green space. Many of the resulting models for downtown Miami on exhibit at BFI are intended more as provocation than blue print, Chandler told Curbed, as vacant land disappears and the pressures mount to infill downtown lots, such as the location of BFI, which is slated to be bulldozed for the enormous Miami WorldCenter, a proposed multi-block project including a 500,000 square foot convention center with a giant Marriott on top.
Though varying wildly in detail, the models exhibited designs for an infill block in downtown Miami, constrained to four stories and either a 25-foot width and 100-foot depth or a 25-foot width and 150-foot depth. Each model contains a townhouse, an apartment, a retail space, office space and a garden. Frey and Chandler will conduct a BFI Weird Miami bus tour November 10. The itinerary is top-secret, but will include stops in neighborhoods throughout the Magic City that have the whole infill urbanism thing down pat. The BFI exhibit continues until November 24. —Emily Schmall
· Townhouse Center
· Hi Res Miami
· Marriott At Miami WorldCenter Is Actually A Thing And Huge[Curbed Miami]